Victim Impact Panels

Definition: A Victim Impact Panel (VIP) is a community-based meeting for victims/witnesses to describe the experiences they or loved ones have endured due to the actions of drunken drivers.

Executive Summary: A victim impact panel consists of a few people (usually 3 or 4) who were injured, or had a loved one injured or killed in a crash involving a drunken driver. Panel members explain how the crash has impacted their lives. DUI offenders can be required to attend the meetings as part of their court sentences. The panel aims to be non-judgmental and speaks about the consequences of drunken driving in an attempt to change behaviors and attitudes. Many communities use victim impact panels as one sanction against DUI offenders to increase drunk drivers’ understanding of the consequences of their actions.

More Detail: Victim Impact Panels began over 20 years ago when bereaved victims of impaired driving crashes were asked to share their experiences with convicted DUI offenders. These panels are a common sentencing option in many courts today, and an educational track in many driving programs and schools.

VIPs can help put a “human face” on the tragic consequences of impaired driving. They provide a forum for victims to tell about the devastating emotional, physical and financial impacts that the incident has had on their lives and those of their families and friends.

The focus of VIPs is to:

  • Provide victims a structured, positive outlet to share their personal experiences,
  • Help offenders consider how their crimes have impacted both their victims and their community,
  • Educate offenders, justice professionals, and community stakeholders about the consequences of impaired driving, and
  • Build partnerships in the community to raise awareness and concern, and ultimately help to prevent future impaired driving crashes.

Suggested Audience: Prosecutors, Judges

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